Sukkot 2018: What is a Sukkah? How do you build one?


One of three Jewish pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot means Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of the Booths.

The seven-day holiday takes place during the month of Tishrei and follows a few days after Yom Kippur.

This year Sukkot began at sunset on Sunday, September 23.

Believers see it as a time of happiness after the end of the solemn High Holy Days, of which Yom Kippur is the pinnacle.

What is a Sukkah? How do you build one?

A sukkah is Hebrew for “booth” and means a makeshift shelter covered with vegetation.

Jews build sukkahs during the period of Sukkot as a symbolic gesture recognising the forty-day period when Israelites walked through the wilderness after being freed as slaves and lived in temporary shelters under the protection of God.

There are strict rules around a Sukkah’s build, namely that is roofless and the sky above can be seen.

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Sukkot 2018

But it is possible to have the the temporary structure around your home in any area as long as it meets the condition that no overlying trees or canopies will obstruct the view above.

The walled structure must be made of organic materials such as wood.

But it is also possible to use fibreglass panels, water fabrics and walls from a person’s own home, according to chanbad.org.

The vegetation used on top forms the “sechach” and can include reeds, bamboo poles, palm leaves and pine branches.

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Sukkot 2018: Man carries palm branches

Once assembled, the sechach must provide more shade than the sunlight it allows to pass through.

Sukkahs are typically decorated with decorations, fresh or dried fruits and pictures.

Each one must have at least two full walls and part of a third wall measuring 3.2 inches.

The walls must be more than 32 inches high, while the minimum dimensions must be bigger than 22.4 inches by 22.3 inches.

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Sukkot 2018: sukkah made of fruits

While the width and length of the sukkah can measure any size, the entire structure must not exceed 30 feet in height.

Ideally four walls are encouraged. The sukkah must be built anew every year but this only means the sechach so the walls can stay up.

Do you sleep inside a sukkah?

In warm countries, Jewish people will spend their entire time during the seven-day period eating, drinking, observing prayers and sleeping inside the sukkah.

But in colder countries, it is acceptable for people to sleep at night in their normal beds.

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